NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 10 – National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has directed the National Assembly Committee on Implementation undertake a probe on reports that a nominee who had been vetted for an ambassadorial posting had already been posted for duty without renouncing dual citizenship.
The House’s Defence and Foreign Relations Committee had upon vetting Mwende Mwinzi recommended that she renounces her US citizenship before she is posted to the Kenyan High Commission in Soul, South Korea.
The apparent deployment of Mwinzi against the committee’s recommendation punctuated the opening session of the House on Tuesday, after MPs resumed sittings on following a month-long recess, with the legislators demanding clarification on the matter.
Endebess MP Robert Pukose who rose on a point of order sought Muturi’s indulgence on the matter after the lawmaker claimed that he had received reports that Mwinzi had already presented her credentials in South Korea.
“Information available is that the said nominee intends to take up the appointment without renouncing her citizenship to the Unites States of America notwithstanding the conditions set by Parliament,” he said.
Pukose the actins by the Foreign Office would damage the reputation of the House, in particular the Defense and Foreign Relations Committee, who in their recommendations advised Mwinzi to denounce her US citizenship or decline the job all together.
“It’s upon the chairpersons of the respective departmental committees to confirm this reports and report back to the House,” he said.
House Majority Leader Aden Dual, however, cautioned Pukose not to mislead the House with rumors noting that the law was clear on State officers seeking government positions and who hold dual citizenship.
“Pukose should have done research and then present to this House whether indeed South Korea had officially received Mwinzi,” he said.
Duale said that from the reliable information he had obtained from Katoo Ole Metito (Kajiado South) who chairs the Defense and Foreign Relations Committee, Mwinzi did not initially take part in an induction program for nominees who had been vetted and approved by the MPs.
Duale claimed that afterwards he received information suggesting Mwinzi attended the training.
“I am told that somewhere along the training she sneaked in but that is yet to be confirmed,” he said.
While emphasizing that the reports if true would disparage the credibility House committees mandated to consider the suitability of candidates for State appointments, Minority Leader John Mbadi (Suba) advised committee chairpersons to steer clear from interviewing individuals who do not meet the constitutional requirement of holding public office.
“Committees need to be very clear on this issue of approving appointments. The people of Kenya gave this House the power to vet and therefore the decision taken should be informed by law so that when we pronounce ourselves the decision should be definite,” he said.
Minority Whip Junet Mohammed while also stressing that the authenticity of the reports needed to be confirmed advised Mwinzi to reconsider her options and follow the constitution.
“Denouncing citizenship is a very serious matter but he has no option,” he said.
Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo observed that it was imperative that MPs should not waste time in future interviewing nominees who were unsuitable and instead advise the appointing authority accordingly.
“If a nominee is not eligible then it’s pointless to proceed with the vetting,” he said.
While pronouncing himself on the matter, Speaker Muturi directed the Richard Kenta-led Implementation Committee to fast track their findings and inform the House on the authenticity of the reports on the alleged deployment of Mwinzi.
“Since the House has resolved itself in a particular way, the Committee on Implementation should address the issue and advise the Executive particularly those responsible for the appointment on the constitutionality of the nominee taking up the role,” he ruled.
According to Section 31 (1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, an individual with dual citizenship cannot hold a State Office.